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M134 Minigun: The Modern Gatling Gun


Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another
video on ForgottenWeapons.com. I’m Ian, and I am here with a pretty cool gun that has been provided for this video by Modern
Arms out of Tempe, Arizona, suburb of Phoenix. This is a GE M134 Minigun. And I’m sure
everyone’s familiar with having seen these, but I bet a lot of people don’t really know
how they work or where they came from. So a little bit of background on this thing. These were
actually first developed as a 20mm rotary aircraft armament. And the reason that they are called “Miniguns”
today is because when GE developed this one they scaled it down from a 20mm aircraft
cartridge to this little tiny .308 round, and at that point it becomes
the mini version of the gun. Now actually development goes back
a little bit before that. That was 1950s. But in fact experiments with electrically powered Gatling guns,
and that’s what this really is, go all the way back to the 1890s. You can in fact find, it’s really cool, you can
find articles from magazines in the 1890s talking about Gatling guns with electrical power firing at
these astonishing rates of fire like 3,000 rounds a minute. Literally as fast as they fire today
they were able to do prior to 1900. The reason is an electrically driven motor will
run this gun as fast as you want to run the motor. Now the obstacle back in … 1900 was
you couldn’t just have electricity anywhere. And where these guns were considered,
or powered Gatling guns were considered, at that time period was as naval
defence, because on a large naval vessel you had a turbine always running that was providing
electrical power and so you could hook the gun up to that. At that point you didn’t have vehicles driving
around that you could … connect the power from. And certainly you can’t run this as an
infantry weapon because you need electricity and in 1900 you don’t have electricity
to just kind of carry around like that. So they were never really successful at that
point, people opted for other mechanisms. And at that point they were never belt fed,
they were typically running Accles drums or Broadwell drums or some other
existing Gatling feed mechanism. And at 3,000 rounds a minute
any of those go dry really fast. If you’re gonna run this effectively
you really need a belt feed. And that’s what we have in this, and that’s
what made these practical in the 1950s. So power-wise these things run on 24 volts DC. … Now your power consumption depends on your rate
of fire because this is a totally electrically operated gun. It’s not recoil operated, it’s not gas operated,
it’s operated by an electric motor. So it’ll run at whatever rate of fire you
want it to, and your power consumption for 3,000 to 4,000 rounds a minute is gonna be
about 1.5 kilowatts, and that’s quite a lot of power. You’re not getting that with AAs or CR123 batteries,
you need basically a pair of car batteries hooked together. And that’s one of several reasons why
whenever you see these things in Hollywood being carried around and fired from
the hip or whatever – completely bogus. The first reason it’s bogus is because … the guy’s not
carrying, you know, 100 pounds of batteries with him. The second reason it’s bogus is he’s not
carrying the ammunition with him because at 3,000 rounds a minute you’re
firing 67 rounds per second. [Note: These guns typically run between 3,000 and 6,000 rpm …
this particular one is set for 4,000 rpm, or 67 rounds/second.] You’ll go through a lot of ammo and … you
need somewhere to store it and it weighs a lot. And of course the recoil force, you’re talking literally
hundreds of pound feet of recoil impulse from this thing. This is equivalent to firing your .308 rifle
3,000 times in a minute, or 67 times in a second, adding all that recoil up and delivering it to the shooter.
So that’s why they’re always on fixed mounts. Now originally these were aircraft armaments,
specifically helicopter armaments in Vietnam. And they were fantastic in that role. That’s where
they really shine, because in say … an attack Huey you can stick this thing on a nice fixed mount,
guy’s got a nice open field of fire out the door, the ammo just goes in a couple
of crates inside the helicopter, you can plug into the helicopter’s
turbine engine, get all the power you need. And the real advantage of this, the reason that
you want 3,000 rounds a minute, is because when you’re flying past someone you have a
very limited window in order to engage a target. And so … the better the gun was, the more lead it could deliver to the target in that one
second or two seconds that were available. This is something that you’ll also
see in standard aircraft machine guns. For example, a ground mount Browning
1919 runs at 500 or 600 rounds a minute. The aircraft version, they make a bunch of changes
and crank that up to like 1,200 rounds a minute, because again, you have these very short
engagement windows. And when you are on target, you need to put as much lead downrange during that
brief moment as you can. That’s where this shines. Alright, so the way that these actually work is
… we have a couple main components here. We have a barrel cluster. We have the actual power source,
the motor that runs the gun. And then the most complex, and really in some ways the most important element
of the gun, is this structure here which is the delinker. So this gun is fed via a standard belt of
.308 ammunition, normal links, M60 links. And what you have to do is have a
way to take the rounds off the belt, and then feed them into the
rotary system of the Gatling gun. So I’ve taken a cover plate off here so we
can see the actual workings of the gun. And what we have are 6 barrels
and 6 bolts, and you can see (… depress this), you can see that the barrels rotate through
(and we’re kind of getting the boring section here), but right here is where they’re closing with a
new cartridge. They’re firing right about here. And then the bolt gets cammed backwards
by this track to extract the cartridge. So we’re getting a feed down in this area, comes up, chambers,
locks, fires at 10:00 or 11:00 o’clock on the clock face. And then extracts and ejects. And
you can actually hear the firing pin. So the firing mechanism,
the actual barrel cluster is in some ways it’s not that complex, and it’s actually
extremely similar to a vintage 1870s Gatling gun. What makes it different is the delinker. Alright, so this is a separate delinking mechanism, and
this is definitely the most complex part of the actual gun. So what we have going on here is right here
is the entry way, where the belt’s coming in. So when this is on the gun it’s gonna be kind of in this
orientation, with this solenoid sticking up out of the top. But what we’re looking at here is
… our belt’s going to come in here, And what we have to do is actually push the cartridges
forward off of the links, or straight through the links. So most machine guns pull the cartridge out the back,
this is going to push it straight … forward through the link. And it’s going to be hooked up to the motor by this gear. (And we can see it best…) OK, so right up in there, at the top of travel, you can just
see the pushers starting to come through as I rotate this. What’s gonna happen is rounds come in here. At the top
of this mechanism they start to get pushed out of the links, and then we come to this side. They get
pushed forward into this silver spindle. And what’s interesting here is this spindle actually holds
two cartridges, one above the other, when it’s operating. So when a cartridge is first stripped off the
belt it goes into the very bottom of this cutout. And it’s then going to go all the way
around this circle and end up on top of this, it’s kind of like a snail shaped surface here. So when the cartridge goes down it’s
on the underside, when it comes up it’s riding on top of this surface. And right
about here it gets transitioned off into the gun. So the best way for me to demonstrate
this is to actually just put some ammo in it. So there is no firing pin mechanism in it,
or anything in this, this is just the delinker. And it would be a little bit better if I had these on links, but I can manually cycle it with my thumb if they’re just
loose rounds and you’ll get the idea of how this works. So I put a couple rounds in there, and then I have
the exposed gear so we can start to pull them down. Put a couple more in there, fill it back up. Now if we look down here we’re
gonna start to see these come through. So there’s our first projectile coming through. (Put a couple more in there.) And as I said, it’s going to come up inside here. So these cartridges are in the bottom of this (boy, I don’t know all the terminology for this gun), at the
bottom of that spindle. And then they’re going to rotate around (and if I don’t get them jammed up, there we go), Now you can see we have
this cartridge on the top, and we’ve got another one
coming in right below it, right there. Just in time this one comes up, now it can actually come out. It’s sitting on
top of this surface and in the top of the spindle. And right in here … the delinker hands this
cartridge off to the actual barrel cluster to fire. And that is how your Minigun feeder, or delinker works. When … the rounds are pushed out of the links,
the links are gonna come out this little [ejector] chute kind of directed away from the rest of
the works of the gun to keep it clean. But that’s where the links will come out, and we’ll
see that in just a moment in some firing footage. So the trigger mechanism here. Being that this is an electrically
fired gun, it’s got an electric trigger mechanism. Make sense, right? A bunch of different stuff going on. We have
this plug which connects to our master power. And then a safety switch, that
turns power on or off to the gun. And of course when you knock this
down you’re going to turn the gun off. The light just confirms that you have power
running to the gun. These are your triggers. You can fire the gun with either one of them,
you don’t have to have both depressed. And then interestingly you have another one here. This button is actually set up to connect to your
communications. So if you’re the door gunner in a helicopter, or if you’re you know, in a Humvee or something that has
this mounted on it, pushing this activates your radio. It’s the equivalent of
reaching to your microphone. And what this allows you to do is keep both
hands on the gun and still be able to communicate. Which is important when you’re the
one directing this kind of firepower. Alright. So firing procedure:
lift up the safety, engage master power. Light’s on, although you can’t see it in
the sunlight, and now we’re ready to go. One of the interesting side effects of
an electrically powered gun like this is the barrels don’t just stop the
moment you release the trigger. … The motor stops, and then the barrels
spin down until they stop from friction. You do want to make sure that you don’t have, say, all of your
ammo continue to feed through the gun while the barrel’s spinning, right, so you don’t have, you know, 50 or 100 rounds dump
out the side of the gun while the barrels are slowing down. And that is done in one of two ways. The original
mechanism was actually a … solenoid on the feeder. And with those you would actually lose about
5 loaded rounds when you stopped firing. They would spit out the ejection port. And the reason
for that was that they were in the gun cluster at the time. The more modern way, which
companies like Dillon have developed, is to actually put a clutch on the thing
that disconnects the feeder earlier. And with a Dillon clutch on it you don’t lose any
live ammo, that was one of their selling points. So, you know, I can fire like a one second burst
and I’m getting about a one second spin down. … A little more than a one second spin down. When you’re actually shooting these, something
to keep in mind is that they don’t really like quick repeat taps of the trigger. So give it a moment to spin down before you fire it
again, otherwise you’re kind of inviting feed jams. When these guns do jam it’s primarily this guy,
it’s the delinker that’s going to give you problems. And you don’t want to have to pull this thing apart to
clear a malfunction. You just want to keep shooting it, so. In general firing these give it a burst. It doesn’t have to be a long
burst, but don’t try and fire, stop, and then immediately fire again. Alright. Before we can shoot it, we have to load
it up. Now of course we have this feed chute. … What this does is simply guide the belt and prevent … there is a cloth cover on here to
prevent [ejected] links from getting stuck in the belt. This just keeps everything nice and clean.
So I’m gonna go ahead and disconnect that. Then this is our ammo can. And this is, I believe,
a 1,000 round ammo can. Got some half-turn locks. And we can take the lid off, and you’ve got it divided into
two segments here. And there’s a trick to getting the 1,000 round continuous belt all loaded in here
just perfectly so it’ll feed without any snags. Now we’re gonna load, … I think
we’ll do a 200 round belt this time. So we’re not really gonna need to mess with this,
we can use just the cover. So let me put this back on. What I’m gonna do here is pop the top of this, and … this funnel is here so that you
can feed from either this side or this side, and the belt will slide into the centre
position where it goes up into the feed chute. We’ve got a plastic nice
low friction roller there. So put our feed chute on, there we go. Lift up the top cover. As with US military machine guns we want the
brass facing down, or as they say, brass to the grass. [feed] that in there What’s kind of cool about this is, because
these are contained in the feed chute, I can actually push this belt and it’ll push
rounds all the way up that chute, up to the gun. Alright, I can see the end of … the
belt up in the chute there. So I have just a little bit of belt left, which has gotten bent.
I had it twisted down there and I bent a link. So it is important on a Minigun that
you do not have a trailing link like this, because that will … will jam up the delinker. So I’m gonna put a loose round in that trailing
link, and then we’ll just slide that down there. Because I have so little belt down in the can, I don’t
need to worry about making sure that it’s folded right. It just barely even hits the bottom of
the can. So go ahead and close this. Lock it down. Now we’re ready
for the next step of loading. (There we go.) Rotate the barrel till
the clutch will open up all the way. OK. Now by pinning this in place
it will allow me to rotate the barrels, which I have to do to manually feed the belt in at first.
So I’ve got my belt down here, we’re gonna lift it up. You want to make sure that everything goes in perfectly straight and
parallel here, you don’t want the rounds nose-diving forward or back. So we’ve got it all the way up, I’m
gonna maintain some upward pressure, rotate the barrel cluster counter-clockwise,
which will rotate the delinker clockwise. And pull that first round up until I hear a click.
There’s one click, we want two clicks. So maintain pressure, make
sure these are still nice and even. There’s our second click. Now the delinker is holding
the belt under its own strength, I can let go of the belt. (I’ll go ahead and put this back in place.) And now I want to continue to click the barrel cluster through
until I see … the first link come out of the [ejection] chute there. Now we’re going to continue to click this through
until the first link comes out the [ejection] chute. Once that happens we’ll know that the belt is all the
way through the delinking process. OK, there we go. Very important now we remove the pin
and re-engage the clutch. If I don’t do this, ammo will continue up into the barrel cluster
and after a couple of clicks it will actually fire a round. As long as the clutch is engaged here, now the
barrel stays still, and what we’ll be doing here is just cycling the belt up and in until
the gun is completely ready to fire. … You saw the second link came out, now we’re
all the way through the delinking cycle. And I can click the barrel around as much as I want, because
the clutch is engaged, ammo is not feeding into the gun. At this point however, the gun is hot. And as soon as you turn on power and press the … trigger
the clutch disengages and allows the gun to actually fire. Alright, here we go. Master power on. That was a little high. And that’s 100 rounds. So, there isn’t an … optic on this [particular]
gun and you … aim it by watching impact. And the trickiest part about that is it
fires so fast that you run out of ammo. You have to be pretty fast to pick up,
“OK, where am I hitting,” and adjust. With a regular machine gun, 500
rounds a minute, it’s not that hard to go well, OK, you know, dag dag dag
dag dag, and bring it onto target. With this thing, by that time you’ve
fired a 250 round belt already. It’s gone. So you have to get some pretty
quick reaction times on this. Which means that I need
some more practice on it. I normally don’t shoot at goofy targets like old trucks, but the Minigun is kind of a different beast
and kind of requires something like that. So I’m gonna see if I can actually hit that. We’re gonna start low, bring the
gun up onto target. Power’s on. [Probably shouldn’t have put the
camera tripod on the gun trailer…] Well, I was hitting it there. Shall we go
take a look and see what happened? So as a guy without a whole lot
of experience shooting a Minigun, I was able to successfully perforate the snot
out of this truck, including both of the tyres. And I think there is going to be an attempt to set
this thing on fire, which will be made very easy by the fact that the gas tank is now also thoroughly
perforated and drizzling out on the ground. So I’m gonna stay a little
farther back from it than this. It is interesting to note that that rate of
fire actually makes it kind of hard to shoot because you have so little time to track your
target and engage before you’re just out of ammo. So we can take … a little bit of a real-world
lesson from a goofy exercise like this, namely you’ll notice that I have bullet holes pretty
well distributed across the front of the truck including a bunch here on the front, blew out that tyre.
However, if we look at the back side of the truck, we’ve got a lot of bullet holes coming out the back,
but we don’t really have any coming out the front here. Got two there in front of the tyre and one clearly
went low enough to actually puncture the tyre, but, while I wouldn’t say there is any safe
way to hide behind this from a Minigun, you’ll die a little bit later if you
hide behind the engine block. Thanks for watching guys,
I hope you enjoyed the video. I’d like to really thank Modern Arms out of Tempe,
Arizona, for letting me get my grubby hands on this thing, show you guys how it works, and show
you guys what it looks like actually shooting. Tune in again to ForgottenWeapons.com
and have some fun.

100 thoughts on “M134 Minigun: The Modern Gatling Gun

  1. i listen to what he says about hollywood stuff, and now i just imagine a guy, carrying on he's back 6 car batteries as a backpack, and a belt that's laying all the way down the street.

  2. As a 68J I was trained to load and service these on the AH-1 Cobra. Along side the 40mm grenade launcher this was insanely destructive. it had 2 modes low rate (2000 rounds per minute) and high rate (4000 rounds per minute) the ammo drum in the belly of the Cobra held 2700 rounds for the M134. Do the math. But watching this thing in actions made you giggle like a schoolgirl.

  3. is kind of cool to see a vestige of the Gatling Gun design still incorporated into modern ultra high performance firearms

  4. unlike 1900's motors. . . Modern electric motors are more compact, and practical for portability. I'd imagine a 1916 motor would have less torque . . . . question . . . .when was the first metal link belt instead of cloth, or stick fed.

  5. And u can only shoot that minigun for 12 secs "why" u say? Cuz ur not carrying the ammo with u (if ur holding it with ur hands without a leg) and u can also take the ammo with u so u can fire it 12 + 12 secs (do some maths or some thing and tell me how much k?) and all guns has a motor that powers a battery and that way u have inf power big brain moment

  6. The science that goes into the delinker, the clutch, solenoid and all the rest and they still can't put a $50 sight on the bloody thing?

  7. The "Sunday Fun Day" gun that needs a dump truck for a brass catcher. (-Costs about $100 bucks to shoot for three seconds-) At that price, I'd only need a wheel barrow to catch brass and I would be broke.

  8. I reload all of my .308 which is what I mainly shoot and this just hurts me watching all that ammo being shot and all the brass dropping to the ground.

  9. 2 recommendations: One, attach a 5W blue laser co-axial with the barrel. It is bright enough to see the beam in daylight, and it ain't the 60s anymore.
    Two, use the tool-steel core APM2 projectiles and see how that engine block holds up.

  10. How to spend all your ammo in one minute. After you can drop your mashine gun an run from the field. Because you never know did you hit somebody or not.

  11. While I understand why it's 'bogus' how people use miniguns in movies, that doesn't mean an above average strength human can't lift a minigun and efficiently fire it with a strap. FPSRussia guy did it. Of course taking this gun on an invasion march is a whole 'nother story. I'm not saying that would work, but you are wrong about calling all that 'bogus' as a general statement.

  12. She weighs one hundred fifty kilograms and fires two hundred dollar, custom-tooled cartridges at ten thousand rounds per minute.
    It costs four hundred thousand dollars to fire this weapon… for twelve seconds.

  13. As I see, this minigun needs electricity. What if battery or power generator will be damaged at battlefield?

  14. I'm actually glad I watched this. I'm counting on In my lifetime having to defend my country against either foreign invaders, a tyrant government or my personal preference….Zombies. That would be a bitch to figure out had I not watched this video.

  15. I enjoyed your video, more realistic and similar to what I experienced in the 60s, I did not like the asshole wasting I hated using thing this thing.. his million rounds of his ammo, with his ROLEX SUBMARINER watch, piss on him. The other guy was a rich shit, I hope he sees the barrel of this gun. Asswipe millionaire.

  16. You ABSOLUTELY can carry battery power with you to run this gun 1500 watts is hardly any power at all . 5 pounds of LiPo batteries will run this for half an hour.

  17. Instead of a 50 Cal mounted on a vehicle, I would take a 20mm Rotary any day of the week! Maybe a little large but it gets the job done. Honestly I don't even know why they use a mounted 50 cal anymore when you could use a 'mini gun'. You mount one of these bad boys on the vehicle and you win every time. Even when you scale down to the 7.62 I would take that over a 50 cal on the vehicle, heck I would prefer even the micro gun like XM214 w/ 5.56×45mm rounds. If you are on a patrol and you gotta shoot up at people hiding in cliffs to me a 50 cal mounted is a waste at a distance, I would rather just saturate the area with tons of rounds. Any hit is better than no hit

  18. I was always in a state of awestruck of how the so called mini gun actually works, anyone who is anyone who has any touch of knowledge of the history truly honestly states the real inventor of GATLIN gun ,mr Richard Gatlin, I myself seriously think the name Gatlin should go back on the gun ,In my book, I will always look up on as ,the electronically fired Gatlin gun,,,,gatlin,gatlin,gatlin,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!,,,,[email protected]

  19. "This is my gun for home defense purposes. When they wake me up in the night, I just… *uff*… just you wait!"… *clank clank clank clank clank… "Wait, I forgot to connect it to the power outlet."… *click, clank, clank*.. "I've rigged it soon. You know what? It's probably cheaper if you just take my stuff. Firing this for a couple of seconds is more expensive than the house and when I have fired it, I don't have a house anymore. Nor my neighbours. Why I don't have it ready to fire? Because I don't want my kids to play with it and mow down the whole neighourbood. Why I have such a cheap house, you ask? Well, because I own this thing."

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